Ye Olde Guide to Yorkshire

A Humble Guide brought to you by Andrew Harrison

What follows is (hopefully) a useful aid for travel while you’re in York.  The purpose of this guide is to provide (a) a few fun places you might want to visit and (b) how to get there.  If something you see looks like it came right out of Rick Steves or the Lonely Planet Guide, that’s probably because it did.  We’ll start with York itself and move outward from there.

Before we begin, here is a helpful page about travelling to York, courtesy of the University of York.  Also of interest is Traveline Yorkshire, a fantastically detailed public transportation service that plans your route for you based on your beginning and end locations. 

Finally, I would like to mention English Heritage, a national organization devoted to the history of England.  Many of the attractions available in England are English Heritage sites. You can find English Heritage sites using this map, which will show you all the English Heritage locations in any area.  Any English Heritage attractions in my guide will be in red text, but since I don’t have all of them listed it’ll be worth your while to look at the map and see if some of them appeal to you.  The English Heritage pass lasts for one year.


Public Transportation in Yorkshire

By Train:  A useful webpage for planning your excursions by train is National Rail, which should cover all your train-related needs.  You can use the site to plan journeys and purchase tickets for multiple train companies.  You can also use it to search for special offers, for example this one, which allows you to travel within certain areas of Yorkshire for 4 days out of 8 at the cost of 57 pounds (minus 34% if you’re under 25) and is covered by most of the major train operators in the area.  It’s well worth your time to look for special offers – they’re sorted by region.  The website also has offers on season tickets, which can be bought for one month’s time or even for just a week.  Of course, you’d have to making the journey a bunch of times to be cost-effective, but it may be worth your while if you plan on making multiple trips somewhere.  Tickets can be bought at a ticket office or online, depending on the provider.  Do remember that buying train tickets in advance (via the internet or phone) is always cheaper, and often buying a round trip ticket is considerably cheaper than buying two one-way tickets.  It’s vital to plan your journey in advance! 

Another valuable resource is the BritRail pass, which offers unlimited travel for a certain number of days within one month.  You can buy the Flexi Pass, which lets you choose which days you get your unlimited travel, or the Consecutive Pass, which offers unlimited travel on a set number of consecutive days.  It is important that you buy this pass now, since they can’t be bought in the UK – they’re designed specifically for international travelers.  BritRail passes also have a great group discount, so if you’re going to be traveling with a buddy then be sure to look into the group discount.

By Bus: Buses (or coaches, if they’re long-distance) can get you almost anywhere in England, though sometimes the system can be a little confusing.  The number of different bus companies is absolutely astounding, so it’s hard to standardize them all.  However, there are some guidelines to using the bus system that can help you out.  In general, expect inner-city buses to be less accommodating than rural ones, but don’t expect rural buses to be too helpful either – they’ll run less often and probably be more expensive.  Never expect a bus driver to be able to break a bill for you – while some bus drivers are happy to do it, most drivers (especially the busier inner-city drivers) will only take exact change.  Additionally, many drivers will not stop to pick you up unless you signal them – similarly, they won’t drop you off unless you signal the driver (like pulling a cord or ringing a bell) that you want to get off at the next stop. 

For general travel National Express is the primary bus provider, though there are countless smaller providers that you’ll probably need to take to get to more rural locations.  You can use the National Express site to find routes to different destinations as well as buy tickets and find special offers.  Be aware that many of these special offers are only available online and in advance, so be sure to look at them as soon as possible.  One such useful pass is the Brit Xplorer pass, which is offered by National Rail and gives you either 7, 14 or 28 days of free travel on National Rail buses for 79, 139 or 219 pounds respectively (you pay online).  If you’re looking for a pass on a smaller bus system then it’s best to look online, or if there is no website for the provider then ask the driver when he comes around if there are any special offers.

By Bicycle: Bicycles can be a great way to get around (England is pretty small, after all) and don’t run on a schedule, but they can be restrictive.  Bicycles are not allows on the motorways or their approach roads, nor are they allowed in pedestrian zones, footpaths or sidewalks.  Bicycles are also not allowed on most buses – as I said above, rural buses are more likely to be accommodating and allow your bike on the bus, but as a rule of thumb you won’t be able to take your bike on the bus.  Bikes are allowed on trains, but it is suggested that you phone in advance or let the provider know when purchasing your ticket so that they can anticipate the extra room – there is a slight chance that they’ll be too full to take your bike and then you’ll be in a sticky situation.  British law apparently requires a white light at the front of your bike and a red light and red reflector on the back, so if you’re bringing your own be sure to bring those items (and a bike lock too).   Sustrans can be a good resource if you’re looking for maps or biking paths.


Naturally the cheapest way to get around York is on your feet – however, the University is a bit outside of the city itself, as you can see here.  Using our good friend Google Maps, we find that it takes about 50 minutes to walk from our accommodations to the city center.  Here are the three suggested paths.

As for public transit, the campus is served by the number 4 ftr bus (ftr buses are supposed to be innovative and controversial, but as far as I can tell they’re just fancy buses).  The York city page has some good resources regarding bus stops, available here.

Another great way of getting around the city is the York Park and Ride.  The idea is that you park your car in a lot and then take the bus to the city center.  Of course we won’t have cars, but the Park and Ride is a good way to get around regardless (they have bike racks too).

Speaking of bikes, near Monk Bar (actually a gate) is Bob Trotter Cycles, a bike rental place which also offers free bike maps.  It doesn’t look like the cheapest place to get a bike, but the map itself may be quite useful.  Rick Steves mentions that the Europcar rental by the train station also rents out bikes.

Now that you have some general idea on how to get around, you’ll need some places to go to.  Since many of the attractions in York cost an entrance fee, I suggest you make good use of York Pass.  York Pass is a 1, 2, 3 or 6 day pass that you can buy that offers free entrance into many of the tourist locations in York and Yorkshire, including places like Howard Castle and several abbeys.  If you know someone else on the trip, or you make a few friends, it may be worth looking at the websites of places you want to visit to see if they offer a group discount, as many of them do.

Here are some fun places (in no particular order) that you might want to visit while you’re in York:

Betty’s Tea Room – Betty’s is a charming tea room with lots of tasty scones, cream and tea.  Of the six Betty’s in the UK, two are in York.  One of them is smaller and thus titled “Little Betty’s”.  The scones may not be the best in York, and the prices are certainly not the cheapest, but the atmosphere makes Betty’s worth the visit (something I can say from experience).  Location: Betty’s,  Little Betty’s.

The Blue Bicycle – The Blue Bicycle has always been popular, but it hasn’t always been a restaurant; once a brothel of considerable charm, the Blue Bicycle has changed its specialty from making love to making food.  While a bit on the pricey side, it’s worth a visit and maybe a drink to see the beautiful interior. Location.

The Old White Swan – This pub was suggested to me by a friend of mine, who praised their sausages and beer selection.  Location (not too far from the Minster).

YorkBoat – YorkBoat offers 45-min daytime city cruises for 7 pounds, driving you by several sightseeing locations around the city.  I wouldn’t recommend this since we’ll probably have plenty of time to see everything on the tour individually.  Location.

City Sightseeing – City Sightseeing is an open top tour bus ride around the city, which is 10 pounds for adults but 7 pounds with a valid Student ID.  I also would not recommend this tour for the same reason as the YorkBoat tour.  The bus leaves at Exhibition Square, which you shouldn’t have trouble finding seeing as our classroom is there.

Ghost Hunt of York – Running at 1 hour and 15 minutes, the Ghost Hunt of York offers a walking tour of York’s haunted locales.  Starting at the Shambles, the tour is focused on fun and entertainment via pranks and stage magic, and claims to turn feelings of horror into those of hilarity.  The price is only 5 pounds, with freely printable vouchers that will save you 1 pound when presented.

Original Ghost Walk of York – Claiming to be the first ghost walk in the world (unlikely), the Original Ghost Walk of York attempts to give its audience a more “authentic” experience, and takes a jab at its competitor (above) by mentioning it needs no stage magic or gimmicks.  It is also a little cheaper, at a student rate of 3 pounds and an adult rate of 4.5.  Previous guests include Morgan Freeman and Richard Dreyfuss.  Location.

Yorkwalk – A historical guided walking tour, Yorkwalk offers to help you “reach the parts of York other visitors miss”.  Yorkwalk offers four different “regular walks”, though they only offer two each day so be sure to check online to decide which day to show up.  Prices are 5.50 pounds for adults and 5 pounds for students.  Location, at the Museum Gardens Gates on Museum Street.

Treasurer’s House – A well-preserved medieval house from the 17th-18th centuries, a Roman legion reportedly marches through the cellars (though why they’re in a house from the 17th century is beyond me).  The house also has a tea room, and everybody knows that nothing goes with ghosts quite like tea.  Prices are 7.20 pounds for entrance into the house and cellar, or less if you don’t want to do both.  Location (it’s in the Minster Yard).

Church of the Holy Trinity – A beautiful old church that has been around for nine-hundred years, this should give a fine example of old church architecture.  Location.

City Walls – The old walls of the city, started by the Romans in AD 71 and still under construction today (well, for maintenance), the city walls offer a look at the city from a slightly elevated point of view.  Also of interest are the numerous gates (called “bars”) along the way, each with their own historical significance.  The link above has a useful map which shows the location of the walls and entrances onto them.

The Bars – No, not pubs.  The city walls have four main gates (and several smaller ones too) known as bars.  Bars of interest are:

-       Bootham Bar:  Near the Minster, the Bootham Bar has some of the oldest stonework, being built in the 11th century, though the majority of the current Bar was built in the 14th and 19th centuries.

-       Monk Bar: The Monk Bar is the tallest of the Bars, having four floors.  The Monk Bar has a working portcullis and is home to the Richard III Museum.

-       Walmgate Bar:  The Walmgate Bar is notable for having a surviving barbican (a defensive entrance into the city), as well as for being a focus of many attacks over York’s long history.

-       Micklegate Bar:  The Micklegate Bar is the ceremonial entrance for monarchs coming to York, in a tradition started by Richard II where they touch the state sword upon entering through the Bar.  The Bar was also used as the display point for the severed heads of traitors to the crown, many of which were left for months.

The locations of these Bars can be found by looking at the map in the City Walls link.

Richard III Museum – Offering a mock trial of Richard III, the museum asks visitors to give their own opinion of what happened; was Richard innocent, or did he murder his own nephews? The admission price is 1.25 pounds for students, though I would suggest you make use of the numerous coupons located here.  The museum is located in Monk Bar.

Shambles – Being relatively hard to miss if you’re spending any amount of time in York at all, the Shambles is York’s oldest street (being at least 900 years old).  The Shambles is wedged between some sharply leaning buildings and is worth a look.  It’s also the location of several attractions, such as the Ghost Hunt of York.  Location.

York Castle Museum – Named after the now-departed York Castle (the Museum stands upon its old grounds), the York Castle Museum attempts to show its visitors “how people used to live by displaying thousands of household objects and by recreating rooms, shops, streets - and even prison cells”.  Student prices are 6.50 pounds, though joint tickets with the Yorkshire Museum can be bought for 8 pounds.  Location.

Yorkshire Museum – Claiming to trace the history of England until 1550, the Yorkshire Museum boasts some of “Britain’s finest archeological treasures” as well as the Museum Gardens.  Student prices are 4 pounds, and the same offer of a joint ticket with the York Castle Museum is offered for 8 pounds.  Location.

Museum Gardens  Stretching ten acres, the Museum Gardens contain several ancient buildings, including the ruins of Saint Mary’s Abbey, the Hospitium, Saint Leonard’s Hospital, a Roman fortress and the York Observatory.  The Museum Gardens also contain numerous flora, being a garden, which some people may enjoy looking at while on a stroll.  The Gardens are located at the Yorkshire Museum, but are free to enter.

St Mary’s – A medieval church that has since been “deconsecrated”, St Mary’s is now a visual arts venue where artists are commissioned to create beautiful works.  Admission is free.  Location.

York City Art Gallery – This art gallery offers paintings from as long as six-hundred years ago, as well as more modern ceramic art.  Admission is free.  The gallery is located next to Bootham Bar, in Exhibition Square.

National Railway Museum – If you simply can’t get enough of trains and railways then the National Railway Museum is for you.  Sights to see include Mallard, the fastest steam train in the world, a model railway and a train carriage used by Queen Victoria herself.  Entrance is free.  Location.

Merchant Adventurer’s Hall – Being over six-hundred-and-fifty years old, the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall was once a guild hall used for business, feasting, charity and worship.  The Hall contains numerous interesting artifacts, like an old evidence chest and newer copies of the guild banner.  Admission is 2.50 pounds for students.  Location.

Fairfax House –Advertised as “the finest Georgian townhouse in England”, the Fairfax house in renowned for its stunning furniture, dating from 18th Century England.  Admission is 5 pounds for students.  Location.

York Theatre Royal – Claiming a history since 1774, the York Theatre Royal has hopefully used that time to master the art of entertainment.  The only play we’ll be able to catch is “The Railway Children”.  Tickets are 15 – 18 pounds.  Location.

Grand Opera House – Appearing to not show opera so much as musicals, the Grand Opera House has a variety of shows playing during our visit.  Shame we’ll miss The Wiggles.  Location.

City Screen Picturehouse – An independent theatre, City Screen shows independent, art-house and foreign language films.  They have quite a large listing, but unfortunately they do not currently show which films will be playing in August.  Location.

Ken Spelman Booksellers – Established in 1948, this bookstore has a large collection of antiquarian and out-of-print books, as well as three floors to put them on.  Location.

St. Crux Parish Hall – Once a medieval church, the parish hall is now a used by several charities to sell tea, cakes and light meals.  Location.

Finally, if you haven’t been to England before, as an American you may be surprised to find that everything in the UK closes early, generally by about 5 or 6 P.M.  Therefore, it may be useful to know about some of the nightlife in York.  It seems that The Black Swan and the Gallery are two of the most popular places to visit in the evening.  The ghost hunts (mentioned above) are also a good way to spend time at night.


Ranging Further Afield

While York is certainly full of fun things to do, it would not do to forget the rest of Yorkshire.  I’ve gone ahead and divided Yorkshire into: North Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Dales, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.  I’ll attempt to provide a summary of why each location may be a place you want to visit, and also give you some ideas on how to get there.  Do note that I’ll concentrate less on specifics and more on generalities now that we’re no longer focusing on York.


North Yorkshire

Harrogate – Once a famous spa town, Harrogate’s places of interest include:  Harrogate Turkish Baths, where a fancy spa treatment awaits those in dire need of pampering; the Royal Pump Room Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the town’s spas; a number of gardens including the Valley Gardens and the Harlow Carr Botanical Gardens, the latter claiming to be “very much a part of Yorkshire’s landscape”.  Traveline estimates a 32-minute rail ride from York to Harrogate, using Northern Rail.  Prices look to be 6.60 pounds one-way.  I suggest making good use of the Northern Rail website for detailed information on available times, routes and prices.

Knaresborough – being at least a thousand years old, Knaresborough boasts Mother Shipton’s Cave, reputedly the birthplace of a prophetess named Ursula Sontheil (Shipton was her husband’s surname).  The cave itself has been on display since 1630.  Traveline suggest taking Northern Rail from York to Knaresborough, which is about 24 minutes and will cost you 5.90 pounds one-way.

Ripley – Just 3 miles from Harrogate, Ripley is known solely for Ripley Castle, the home of the Ingilby family since the 1320s (yes, they’re still there).  The castle boasts beautiful gardens and has seven rooms on display, including a hiding place for the priest.  Traveline suggest taking the train to Harrogate and then taking a bus from Harrogate to Ripley.  The Ripley Castle website has this page on getting to Ripley.  The bus service, called The 36, has buses that leave every 20 minutes.  A single ticket is 6.20 pounds, but if you can disguise someone as a child then 2 adults and up to 3 children can get a family ticket (no relation necessary) for 12.40 pounds.

Newby HallBuilt in the late 17th century, Newby Hall’s main pull is not the Hall itself (though it is rather elegant), but the 25 acres of magnificent gardens next to it.  The gardens are designed so that different sections bloom depending on the season.  Prices are 11 pounds for house and gardens, or just 8 pounds for the gardens.  Newby Hall is in Ripon, and so one possible route includes taking The 36 from Harrogate or Leeds.  Traveline suggests taking Harrogate Coach Travel from York to Skelton-on-Ure, where the entrance to the Newby Hall estate lies.

Ripon – Described as “a charming small city”, Ripon’s attractions include the Ripon Cathedral, which is built above a 7th century Saxon crypt (the oldest complete crypt in England) and noted for the fine architecture of its West Front.  Ripon also houses the Prison and Police Museum, which contains information on the history of the police and the conditions of Victorian prisons.  Ripon also contains the marvelous Fountains Abbey, a site we will be visiting as part of class (one can never see it enough, however).  Traveline again suggests Harrogate Coach Travel for travel to Ripon, though The 36 is also a possibility if one is traveling from Harrogate or Leeds.  Alternatively, you could just wait and see how we get there when we go to Fountains Abbey.

Byland Abbey – A Cistercian monastery founded in 1177, Byland Abbey is now in ruins.  It is suggested by the linked website that the Rose window (which is mostly destroyed) was the model for the York Minster’s own Rose window.  The website has some suggestions for transport from various locations.  Traveline suggests taking the Stephensons-Easingwold 31X bus from the Theatre Royal Stop in the York city center to the Abbey Inn, then walking 3 minutes to the Abbey.  Admission to the Abbey is about 3.40 pounds.

Coxwold – The hometown of author Laurence Sterne, Coxwold is home to Shandy Hall, the aforementioned author’s former place of residence.  Shandy Hall now acts as a museum dedicated to Sterne.  Be forewarned that the house is only open Sunday and Wednesday, and only for about two hours, so be sure to check your timetable before going. Admission is 4.50 pounds.  Traveline suggests taking the M15 Moorsbus to Coxwold and walking 10 minutes to Shandy Hall.

Nunnington Hall – A 17th century manor house, Nunnington Hall offers architectural delights (the best kind) and lavish, overly-decorated rooms.  It also has a beautiful walled garden, noted for the peacocks that reside there.  Getting into Nunnington Hall will run you 5.70 pounds.  Traveline suggests taking the number 30 “Reliance Motor Services” bus from York to The George Hotel in Easingwold, walking 1 minute to the Market Place in Easingwold and taking the number 14 “W P & M Hutchinson” bus to Nunnington Hall.

Helmsley – Helmsley is of interest because of Helmsley Castle, originally dating from 1120.  The builder of the castle, Walter Espec, also built Wark Castle and founded Rievaulx Abbey and Kirkham Priory.  Admission is 3.80 pounds.  Traveline suggests taking the Stephensons-Easingwold 31X bus from York to Helmsley.

Rievaulx Abbey A Cistercian Abbey founded in 1132, Rievaulx Abbey is noted for its impressive ruins, which are nearly as famous as Fountain Abbey’s.  The Abbey was founded in an area with little flat ground, so the monks diverted the nearby river so that they could build the abbey.  Admission is 4.30 pounds.  Traveline suggest taking the M15 Moorsbus, which stops at the Abbey, however since the Abbey is nearby Helmsley it is also possible to take the M2 Moorsbus from Helmsley.

North York Moors – A national park, the Moors cover 554 square miles of beautiful land.  There are a number of interesting spots to visit in the North York Moors, some of which are described above and below this paragraph.  However, there are some places which did not warrant their own paragraph, so I’ll list them briefly here:  Farndale, a valley famous for its wild daffodils (during the springtime); Mallyan Spout, a beautiful waterfall near the village of Goathland; Hutton-le-Hole, a small, charming village popular with tourists and home to the Ryedale Folk Museum; Rosedale Abbey, a village built over the remains of an abbey by the same name (only a staircase, pillar and sundial remain); Lastingham, a small village with a church dating from 1078 and a Norman crypt; Wade’s Causeway, a road with an uncertain origin (but widely considered to be Roman) that is one of the best-preserved ancient roads in Britain.  For transportation, I would suggest Moorsbus, or looking up individual locations via Traveline or other resources.

North Yorkshire Moors RailwayIf you’ve ever wanted to ride a steam train, then now’s your chance! Running across the Moors, the line was opened in 1836 and operated first with horse-drawn carriages before turning to steam engines.  The train was closed in the early ‘60s but was reopened in ’73.  Steam trains still run through the Moors today to places like Goathland and Whitby.  The Train starts at Pickering, which can be reached by taking the Yorkshire Coastliner bus from the York city center.

WhitbyWhitby began as a monastery back in 656, was destroyed by Vikings in 867 and was rebuilt under its current name in 1078.  Besides its rich history, Whitby has several interesting things for tourists to explore.  Of note are: Whitby Abbey, the very same abbey mentioned above, Whitby Abbey is surprisingly intact considering its long history; St. Mary’s Parish Church, an altered Norman church with twisted wooden columns and “maze-like” pews; the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, the living place of James Cook when he was an apprentice at Whitby’s harbor; the Whitby Museum and Pannett Art Gallery, a museum containing objects related to local history, artifacts related to Captain Cook and an art gallery; Caedmon’s Cross, the cross of Caedmon (big surprise there), an illiterate herdsman who one night experienced a dream that enabled him to write inspired religious poetry; the Dracula Museum (or Dracula Experience), an odd tribute to Bram Stoker’s famous novel.  For transportation to Whitby, Traveline suggests taking the Yorkshire Coastliner bus, which is about a two-hour ride, taking the National Express Coach service from York to Whitby, or taking the Transpennine Express train from York to Middlesborough and then taking the Arriva North East bus from Middlesborough to Whitby.  Alternatively, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway mentioned in the above paragraph will get you to Whitby as well.

Robin Hood’s Bay – One legend states that Robin Hood kept boats ready here for a quick escape, though it is uncertain if this town has any connection to Robin Hood (certainly the name suggests it does).  The town is known for smuggling however, and it is rumored that many of the houses are connected by a subterranean network.  The town features steep cobbled streets, a rocky beach and a short walk to Boggle Hole, an old smuggler’s den.  Robin Hood’s Bay is only 5 miles from Whitby, an easy walk or bus ride for those with sore feet.  If you’re traveling from York, Traveline suggests taking the Transpennine Express train to Scarborough and then taking the Arriva North East bus to Robin Hood’s Bay.  If you’re coming from Whitby, then the Arriva North East bus will get you to the Bay in about 20 minutes.

ScarboroughFounded in 966 by a Viking raider named Thorgils Skarthi, Scarborough was promptly burned to the ground by another Viking named Tosti who wished to rectify Thorgil’s mistake of not burning things.  Scarborough was left abandoned until Henry II built a castle there.  Scarborough Castle remains a popular tourist spot, along with: the Wood End Museum, an exhibit of local geology and history; the Rotunda, a museum specializing in Jurassic-period geology; the Scarborough Art Gallery, featuring art by local artist Atkinson Grimshaw and the Sea-Life and Marine Sanctuary, which reportedly has baby seals (clubs sold in the gift shop).  Scarborough can be reached by taking the Transpennine Express train from York.

Castle Howard  – Not actually a castle at all, Castle Howard is the extravagant home of the Howards, who have lived there since 1712 but have since opened up portions of their house and grounds to the public.  With beautiful gardens and a lavish interior, Castle Howard is definitely worth a few hours to stroll around and take in all the sights.  It will cost students 10 pounds to get into both house and gardens.  Traveline suggests taking the M15 Moorsbus from York to Ampleforth, and then taking the HB2 Silverline bus from Ampleforth to Castle Howard.

Thirsk – For fans of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, Thirsk is the town to go to.  The inspiration for the setting of the above book, Thirsk is a small town featuring the James Herriot Museum, the function of which should not be difficult to guess.  The Transpennine Express train can be taken from York to Thirsk, with the M7 Moorsbus at the train station taking visitors to the market place.

Eden Camp – A World War II museum which attempts to recreate the aura of the war, Eden Camp was once a POW camp for German and Italian prisoners.  It has won numerous awards for its bold approach at educating the public as to what living through the war was like.  The website suggests allowing 3-4 hours for a visit, which will cost 5 pounds.  The Yorkshire Coastliner 840 bus will get you from York to Eden Camp.

Wharram Percy – An excavated medieval village, Wharram Percy was once a pastoral town with about 30 houses and a church, but was deserted in the 16th century when the villagers were turned out to make room for sheep pastures.  Wharram Percy is free to enter and is nestled in grassy countryside, making it an ideal picnic spot.  Traveline is unhelpful on this one, but the website mentions taking the M14 Moorsbus to Malton, and then taking the Malton-Foxholes Royal Mail Postbus to Wharram LeStreet, after which you must hike ½ mile south down a track to get to the deserted village.  Be sure to get more detailed directions if you wish to go, as public transport there is hard to find.

East Riding of Yorkshire

Burton Agnes – A tiny village, Burton Agnes is home to two houses of interest.  The first is the Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house built between 1601-’10.  The second is the older Burton Agnes Manor House, a Norman house built in 1173 near the Hall.  Burton Agnes can be reached by taking the East Yorkshire Motor Services 744 bus from York.

BemptonBempton is a small village on the chalky cliffs, known for said cliffs and its seabird breeding.  For those who love seaside cliffs and seabirds, then Bempton presents plenty of lovely walking opportunities.  Additionally, you can reach the Flamborough Head by walking along the coastline.  Flamborough Head is 8 miles long and features two lighthouses (one quite old and one quite new).  Flamborough Head can also be reached by going to Flamborough, if the Bempton Cliffs don’t interest you.  Additionally, you could just use Traveline if you want to go somewhere specific in Flamborough.    Bempton can be reached by taking the Transpennine Express train from York to Scarborough and then taking the Northern Rail train from Scarborough to Bempton.

BeverleyThe main town of the East Riding, Beverley is like a mini-York.  It’s got medieval and modern elements and some rocking sites to see.  Said rocking sites include:  the Beverley Minster, the current incarnation of which was started about 1220 and finished almost 200 years later – despite the extreme delay in finishing the building it looks fabulous and features gorgeous Gothic architecture; St. Mary’s Church, known for possessing “Britain’s largest number of medieval stone carvings of musical instruments” and for featuring a grinning rabbit said to have inspired the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland; the Beverley Races, horse races that have apparently been taking place in Beverley for 300 years.  Traveline suggests taking either a) the National Express East Coast train to Doncaster and then taking Northern Rail from Doncaster to Beverley, or b) taking the number X47 East Yorkshire Motor Services bus from York straight to Beverley.

Burton Constable HallA manor house lived in by the Constable family since 1570, Burton Constable is an Elizabethan house with some alterations made in the 18th century.  The house is set in 300 acres of gardens.  Admission to both house and gardens is 6 pounds.  Burton Constable can be reached by getting to Hull (detailed below) and then taking the number 277 East Yorkshire Motor Services bus from Hull to Sproatley.  Once in Sproatley you must walk about 12 minutes to Burton Constable Hall.

Kingston upon HullTraditionally a fishing town, Kingston upon Hull (or just Hull) still takes plenty of business in its port (though it doesn’t do so much fishing now).  Sites to see include: the Maritime Museum, dedicated to the city’s maritime past; the Wilberforce House, the birthplace of the man who abolished the slave trade in England (William Wilberforce) and a museum dedicated to him; the Streetlife Museum of Transport, a museum dedicated to various forms of street transportation; The Deep, an underwater aquarium (it claims to be the world’s only ‘submarium’) with a few million liters of water and thousands of fish.  Getting to Kingston upon Hull is possible by taking Northern Rail from York, or by taking the X47 East Yorkshire Motor Services Bus from York.



Yorkshire Dales

Before we get started on the sights of the Yorkshire Dales, it would be a good idea to mention that much of the Dale’s attraction is in its natural beauty, and as such many of the great attractions are out in the countryside, away from large towns.  Many of the sites I’ll be suggesting are in towns where I can give you directions, however for many of the great views the Dales have to offer you’ll be on your own.  I would suggest making good use of the Dales website linked above, and also link you to Dalesbus, a public transport system for the Yorkshire Dales.  I’ll attempt to use Traveline suggestions for many of the destinations, but remember to look up where you want to go on Dalesbus also, as it seems able to get you just about anywhere within the Dales.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of different nature walks in the Dales, and the best way to learn about them is to ask the locals – I’m sure a friendly pub owner will be happy to give you directions with your ale.  Finally, I would suggest looking into renting a bike or just walking everywhere, and making a weekend of the trip (rather than trying to see everything in one day).

RichmondA medieval market town, Richmond is the main town of Swaledale, which is one of the three main dales.  Central to Richmond is Richmond Castle, which was started in 1071.  Visitors can climb up to the top of the keep for a great view of the town.  Those interested in the history of Richmond and Swaledale might want to visit the Richmondshire Museum.  To get to Richmond, Traveline suggests taking the National Express East Coast train to Darlington, and then taking a National Express East Coast number G12351 bus to Richmond.

Buttertubs – A bunch of limestone potholes, nearing 20 meters in depth.  The Buttertubs are thusly named because farmers apparently lowered their butter in the holes in order to keep it cool.  The Buttertubs are located near the summit of the Buttertubs Pass, which goes from Muker and Thwaite in Swaledale to Hardraw and Hawes in Wensleydale.  Directions are uncertain, so I’ll leave it to you to find it on a map or on Dalesbus.

Hawes – One of the main towns of Wensleydale (famous for its cheese), Hawes is a good focal point for its many nearby attractions.  One such attraction is the above mentioned Buttertubs Pass.  Also of interest is the Dales Countryside Museum, a museum focused on the history of the Upper Dales and includes cheese-making equipment.  Nearby is Hardraw Force, England’s largest unbroken waterfall (you might recognize it if you’ve seen Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), which is situated near the village of Hardraw, which is itself at the end of the Buttertubs Pass – Google Maps has it as about a 30 minute walk to get from Hawes to Hardraw, as seen here.  Other falls in the area are the Aysgarth Waterfalls, near the village of Aysgarth, the waterfalls here were apparently also featured in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood movie.  Aysgarth is near Hawes, and can be reached by multiple buses.  To get from York to Hawes, Traveline suggests taking the National Express East Coast train to Northallerton, and then taking the Dales and District 157 bus from Northallerton to Hawes.

Grassington – A suggested home base for exploring Wharfdale, the final of the three major dales.  Grassington is a small town featuring the Upper Wharfdale Museum, which focuses on the domestic and working history of the area.  There are also various other places reachable by feet, bike or bus near Grassington, such as Burnsall, a nearby village with a medieval church called St. Wilfrid’s.  Also nearby is the town of Bolton Abbey, which features the ruins of an Augustinian priory establish in 1154 named Bolton Priory.  Buses can also take aspiring moles to Stump Cross Caverns, a series of beautiful limestone caves.  Grassington is just a short bus ride away from Skipton, an alternate home base for exploring the dales, which will be covered in the next paragraph.  To get to Grassington from York, Traveline suggests taking the Transpennine Express to Leeds, and then taking the Godson’s Coaches 800 bus from Leeds to Grassington.  Alternately, you could take the Northern Rail train from Leeds to Skipton, and then take a quick bus ride from Skipton to Grassington.

Skipton – Called the “Entryway to the Dales”, Skipton is right at the edge of the Dales and makes a good place to begin your journey there.  Besides an ideal location, Skipton has Skipton Castle, built in 1090 and gradually rebuilt and expanded since then.  Skipton is also near Malham, which is detailed next.  To get to Skipton, Traveline suggests taking the Transpennine Express train from York to Leeds, and then taking the Northern Rail train from Leeds to Skipton.

Malham – Malham is a small village north of Skipton, and the start of the popular Malham Walk.  The Malham Walk is actually part of the Pennine Way, a 250 mile long trek through England and part of Scotland.  This section of the Pennine Way features the Malham Cove and the Malham Lings, both beautiful natural limestone formations.  Along the way visitors can take a detour to the Gordale Scar, a deep gorge created from Ice Age glaciers.  Finally the path finds itself at the Malham Tarn, Yorkshire’s second-largest lake.  After the lake you can catch a bus back to Malham.  The length is about 7 miles, and it is suggested that walkers allow themselves about 5 hours to fully enjoy the walk.  Malham is close to Skipton, and can be reached by taking the Jacksons of Silsden 884 bus from Skipton.

Ingleton – Just on the edge of the Dales, Ingleton offers numerous walks for those who like hikes and caves.  Starting in Ingleton is the Waterfalls Walk, which will take walkers to numerous waterfalls along the River Twiss and the River Doe.  Just outside of Ingleton are the White Scar Caves, which contain numerous underground marvels and dozens of caves for both the public and the experienced caver.  If you take a bus (or walk) to nearby Clapham you can walk to Ingleborough Cave, situated within Ingleborough Peak, one of the Dales’ Three Peaks.  Speaking of the Three Peaks, two of them are near Ingleton, so those who want to do the Three Peaks Walk (not for the faint of heart or foot) might want to start here.  Ingleton can undoubtedly be reached from anywhere in the Dales by way of Dalesbus, but if you want to go straight from York then you’ll have to make multiple stops along the way – Traveline can help you plan out your trip.

West Yorkshire

Harewood House – Built in 1759, the Harewood House boasts an “unrivalled collection of 18th-century furniture” that was made specifically for the House.  The House also has extensive grounds and the Harewood Bird Garden, which houses some exotic species of birds and has a breeding program for endangered species.  Admission to the House is a whopping 13 pounds; however, if you show your bus ticket at the door you’ll get in for half price!  Sweet deal!  Harewood House is located near Leeds and Harrogate, and the website says that the number 36 bus will take you to Harewood every 20 minutes.  Once in the village a free shuttle can take you to the house.

Leeds – Leeds was extremely prosperous during the Victorian era, which apparently shows in its shopping arcades.  However, there is more to Leeds than shopping arcades – some of the attractions are: The Grand, an opera of high quality; the City Art Gallery, with collections of British 20th-century art and Victorian paintings; the Royal Armouries Museum, a celebration of arms, armor (armour if you’re a Brit) and the marvelously violent uses people have found for them; the Thackray Medical Museum, which features an interactive display of medical advances; Kirkstall Abbey, a Cistercian monastery designed along the same lines as Fountains and Rievaulx.  Leeds can be reached by taking the Transpennine Express train from York.

Bradford – One a successful market town, Bradford was the world’s capital for worsted, which is fabric made of twisted wool.  Today Bradford has the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, the purpose of which should be self-explanatory.  Bradford goes back to its roots with the Bradford Industrial Museum, which is housed and is about an old spinning mill.  In line with Bradford’s history with fabric, visitors can find the Color Museum, which follows dying and textiles from ancient Egypt to today.  Bradford can be reached by taking the Northern Rail train from Leeds.

HaworthThe small village of Haworth is known for being home to the Brontë family.  The girls are famous for writing books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.  The Brontë Parsonage Museum is dedicated to them.  Haworth can be reached by taking a bus from Hebden Bridge – for more details look up trips on Traveline.

Hebden BridgeA former mill town, Hebden Bridge is built near steep hills, steep to the extent that the houses built on the hills have been described as “gravity-defying”.  Hebden Bridge lies along the Pennine Way and is a popular spot for walking and hiking.  To get to Hebden Bridge one can take the Northern Express train from York.   

Halifax – For a long time Halifax had its success from the textiles industry, which shows in its attractions today.  Halifax features the Piece Hall, where merchants used to sell cloth and where the market still takes place.  The Shibden Hall Museum is a period house with parts dating from the 15th century.  Near Halifax is Sowerby Bridge, which was also a textile industry center for a long time.  It is now a popular spot because of its scenic canals.  Taking the Northern Rail train can get one from Leeds to Halifax.

National Coal Mining Museum – The National Coal Mining Museum is housed in a real coal mine – visitors can go 450 feet underground and see what coal mining would have been like back in the 1820s all the way to how it is today.  Admission is free.  Buses to the Museum can be taken from Huddersfield or Wakefield, which can be reached from York via the Transpennine Express and Crosscountry trains, respectively.

Yorkshire Sculpture ParkWith 500 acres of space to work with, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is sure to have something that appeals to you.  The Park claims to be a center for modern and contemporary art, with exhibits that they hope will “challenge, inspire, inform and delight”. Admission is free.  The Park can be reached by taking the Crosscountry train from York to Wakefield, and then taking the 436 Arriva Yorkshire bus to West Bretton, then walking 15 minutes to the park.  You may want to check Traveline for more details, or check Google Maps for a map.

South Yorkshire

SheffieldKnown once for being a leader in the steel industry, Sheffield now concentrates on its universities and tourism and shopping economy.  Sights to see include the Winter Gardens, a public garden space under a “soaring glass roof” and the Peace Gardens, with grassy lawns and fountains to fill the air with a relaxed aura.  There are also several galleries in town which include the Millennium Gallery (four galleries in one) and the Graves Gallery, which focuses on modern European art.  Sheffield can be reached by taking the Crosscountry train from York.